Sixers keep their season intact in thriller
THERE were moments against Illawarra on Monday night when it felt like Adelaide's season was about to slip away but each time something - and someone - special delivered.
Up 97-96 with 32 seconds to play and the Hawks storming home with sharp-shooting momentum, Anthony Drmic drained a three from the top of the arc off a catch-and-shoot for a team-high 24 points as the Sixers held on to win 102-96.
Drmic was 0-5 from long range when he jacked up the game sealer then he was frantically directing traffic trying to cover Todd Blanchfield and Sunday Dech on Illawarra's final possession.
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Both had the potential to wrestle the game back, particularly Blanchfield who single-handedly kept the Hawks in it with an incredible 35 points on 12-18 shooting including seven three-pointers but was denied.
The other moment when it felt like Adelaide's season could well be vanishing before their eyes was coming out of halftime when they trailed 61-59.
This time it was Eric Griffin who stepped up just 14 seconds into the third quarter.
Adelaide's enigmatic import made a half-court steal and.had time to look behind him before he went up for a one-handed slam - complete with the Karl Malone-inspired hand behind the back of his head - which kicked his team into gear.
Griffin took weeks to find his feet in Adelaide and learn how the league was officiated after regular foul trouble, but he now well and truly belongs.
The crowd loved his dunk but they loved his block on Blanchfield moments later even more.
Griffin finished with 15 points and nine rebounds while Jerome Randle (19 points) as he so often does also hit some clutch shots in the last quarter.
ALL IN THE ROTATIONS
Predicting Adelaide's rotations this season has been like trying to guess the cross lotto numbers but timing is everything for coach Joey Wright.
He went with his familiar starting five including Obi Kyei on Josh Boone, and when Kyei learns to finish under the rim he will be a much more dangerous player.
But Boone was having too much influence in the second quarter and when he tipped in teammate Daniel Grida's wayward free throw, Wright removed Eric Griffin and Harry Froling for Daniel Johnson and put Kyei back in.
Kyei got a defensive board straight away and made an intercept with half-court help for his guards.
But right then, as strange a time as it seemed, Wright called Griffin back into the game and brought Kyei out. The result? The Sixers went straight to Griffin in the paint next possession and he made a three-point play to put the home team five points up.
Wright didn't touch his bench for the entire third quarter as the Sixers took the lead and were never headed from there.
One player we haven't seen much of lately is Adelaide's energy guy Jack McVeigh who played 2min21sec after just 10, 12 and 9 in the three previous games.
TEYS ON TARGET
No longer the guy who does all the little things that go unnoticed, Brendan Teys has turned shooter this season, particularly since being promoted to the starting line-up.
He made his first three pointer of the night when Daniel Johnson kicked it out to him on the wing and his first quarter stats read 9 points on 4/6 shooting, 3 rebounds and 1 assist on his way to 13 points and five boards for the game.
It wasn't just his outside shot but Johnson honoured his cut with a bounce pass inside then he drove coast to coast and missed the lay-up but rebounded his own shot and put it back in.
WHITE ALL RIGHT
Teys' co-captain Kevin White was also reliable from limited minutes. He only played 8:26 but it was the little things that made a big difference.
He hit a three-pointer when left open and won a contested rebound that sent his bigger opponent Hyum Harris to the floor.
Lastly his deflection under the basket gave Johnson a crucial second look late in the game to help get Adelaide home.
TIGHT RUN TO THE FINISH
Adelaide went into the game as one of three teams on nine wins trying to chase down Melbourne and Cairns on 11 in third and fourth spot.
Having secured the win over Illawarra they now host Melbourne United at home again on Saturday night before Cairns (away), Brisbane (home) and New Zealand (away) after that. With every team bar Illawarra still capable of playing finals Adelaide cannot afford to drop too many more.